Netanyahu returns, but Israel’s political and military landscape has changed
Bibi is back, leading Israel’s most right-wing government but also facing unprecedented Palestinian resistance and global turmoil.
While the Arab Summit in Algeria affirmed its adherence to the so-called ‘Arab Peace Initiative’ as a final solution to the Palestinian issue, Israel’s response came quickly and resolutely with the return to power of Benjamin Netanyahu and the anti-Arab religious Likud bloc.
In the 1 November legislative elections, Israelis voted in large numbers for the anti-Arab, racist, religious parties, which openly embrace a policy of killing and expelling Palestinians from all of occupied Palestine, and promote a solely Jewish-Zionist identity of the country.
The “Jewish Power” party, which won 15 seats, and is led by the two most racist figures in the short history of the Jewish state, Bezael H. Cherish and his deputy Itamar Ben Gvir, will be the backbone of Netanyahu’s coalition government.
The leader of this party, which will be the most prominent partner of the Arab monarchs who signed peace agreements with Israel, has called for killing Arabs, expelling them and wrapping the bodies of the martyrs in pigskin “in honor” of them.
Normalization the new norm
Nonetheless, it is likely that red carpets will be laid out for Ben Gvir and Netanyahu in Arab capitals, where they will enjoy Arab hospitality and drink from their gilded goblets. Indeed, there is no difference between the winning Israeli coalition and the defeated one (Lapid-Gantz).
Both converge on their mutual hostility and hatred of Arabs and Muslims. General Benny Gantz, the Israeli Minister of Defense in the previous government, used to boast that he was the Israeli who killed the largest number of Arabs – and this is true, as his government has killed 166 Palestinians since the beginning of this year.
There is a silver lining, however: This racist government will hasten Israel’s demise and lead to its inevitable end, not at the hands of the battered Arab armies, but at the hands of the Palestinian resistance and their regional allies, their missiles and drones.
There are three steps that the Netanyahu government and his extremist coalition may take upon assuming power:
First, a return to reviving the Trump-era ‘Deal of the Century,’ the annexation of the West Bank, and the deportation of most of its Palestinian residents to Jordan as an “alternative homeland.”
Second, the escalation of incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the consolidation of Jewish control over East Jerusalem, and the obliteration of its Arab and Islamic identity. The first step may be dividing it on the model of the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, then demolishing it, and erecting the alleged “temple” on its ruins.
Third, the canceling or freezing of the maritime border demarcation agreement with Lebanon, similar to what happened to the Oslo Accords with Palestinians. Netanyahu announced his intent to do so openly in his election campaign.
This option appears especially likely given that extraction of gas and oil from the Karish field has already begun, while the Qana field, which was “partially” recognized as Lebanese, remains untouched, with no surveys or exploration conducted until this moment.
It is likely that the Lebanese gas fields will lay dormant for the foreseeable future. The same US mediators did not guarantee the implementation of even 1 per cent of the Oslo Accords, and they will most likely not guarantee the rights of the Lebanese people.
Renewed Palestinian armed resistance
But Netanyahu is set to assume control over a very different state of affairs, both domestically and internationally. For starters, Israel is facing an escalating internal conflict, and most importantly, a revived intifada in the form of West Bank armed resistance.
We cannot talk about West Bank resistance without discussing the phenomenon of The Lions’ Den whose political and military influence is expanding, while the Palestinian public’s embrace of the movement is growing. Not a day passes without witnessing a commando operation in various parts of the West Bank; in Nablus, Jenin and Hebron – later in Ramallah, and then in the pre-1948 occupied Palestinian territories.
Netanyahu may succeed in including one or two more Arab governments in the Abraham Accords, which was signed under his last premiership. However, such political acrobatics will have no value in light of the “awakening” of the Palestinian people and their return to armed resistance.
The returning Netanyahu will not forget the May 2021 battle of the “Sword of Jerusalem” that humiliated him, and its missiles that isolated the occupying state for more than 11 days, forcing millions of Israeli settler-colonizers into shelters and bunkers.
These missiles are still present and ready, along with hundreds of armed drones. Perhaps it is also worth reminding the incoming Israeli Prime Minister of how he ended an electoral meeting in the city of Ashdod (my ancestors’ hometown) and fled in terror from the 400 missiles launched by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement in retaliation for the assassination of its leader, Baha Abu al-Atta.
Just another day in the office?
The “Israel” to which Netanyahu returns is not the same Israel he left, and the world he knew when he was last in power, is not the same world today. His US supporter is mired in an unprecedented proxy war of attrition with Russia in Ukraine, where his co-religionist, Volodymyr Zelensky, has so far lost about a fifth of his country’s territory, and has plunged it into darkness and despair.
While Netanyahu is viewed as as being close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, that friendship had deepened before the Ukraine war. The situation has now changed dramatically, and he will be forced to choose between Washington and Moscow in an era of multipolarity.
As for the Lions’ Den, they have effectively changed all the equations and rules of engagement in occupied Palestine – and perhaps in the Arab world as well – and within this context will actually “welcome” the hardliner Netanyahu’s return to power.